Shiny Shopping Bags

This week has seen quite a chunk of technology news updates (which I'll skim over in a mo) but the one that stands out for me is Tuesday's Google TV announcement at the IFA. First the other bits....

Other Google news on Wednesday, when they decided they'd finally release "Google Instant". If you have a Google account and are logged into it, visit and try a search. What you'll get is instant results as you type. So the example they've been banding about is, press "W" and the weather forecast for your area will appear. It seems like it might be quite cool, except that Google don't always know what I'm looking for, even if they like to think that they do. One interesting thought, is that it does take predictive text to a whole new level and they are planning on a version of it for mobile devices later in the year. No longer will you be texting your mum with the words "Happy Chpuv day" once a year.

Talking about mobile devices. Apple's hotly anticipated iOS 4.1 showed up at around 6pm GMT yesterday as well. Installation was the standard iPhone upgrade procedure. From start to finish was about 40 minutes for me. Has it fixed my proximity sensor issues? That's when you hold the phone to your ear, the display is supposed to go off so that you don't inadvertently start a conference call with your Gran who's on holiday in bermuda while you're talking to your boss (What?? It could happen... You don't know!) Anyway - so far, I haven't been able to replicate the problem, so it could well be fixed. Time will tell. You also get Game Center (Social networking for games) and HDR (Hight Dynamic Range) photography.

Those were both interesting, but the main event: Google TV. Google CEO, Dr. Eric Schmidt, delivered his keynote speech at the 50th edition of "IFA" in Berlin. For those of you wondering what that is, it's the largest consumer electronics show in the world. That's where you'll find the old school boys (Sony, Toshiba et al) trying to flog you the idea that a 3D TV in your house is just what you need. Personally, I disagree, but I'll come to that another time (along with Dr Kermode's views on the subject).

Mr Schmidt chose this moment to reveal that Google TV will finally be launched in the United States this Autumn and the rest of us poor consumers will have to wait until next year sometime. He also said that they'd be working with content providers, but it is very unlikely that they will get into actual content production. Full Internet browsing will be available as part of the service, which will be free of charge and will appear embedded into devices such as TV's and set-top boxes.

Of course, if you don't want to wait, then the Apple TV is available this year (pre-orders are being taken now) for $99 or as I correctly surmised £99 in rip-off britain. They aren't the same thing at all, even though most tech journals seem to be writing them up that way.

Here's the video descriptions of both of them. First up Google TV:

Then Apple TV:

Neither of them provide your "Live" TV, that comes from you Antenna, Cable or Sat' dish, but they both provide slightly different levels of Internet connectivity to your TV screen.

This really doesn't matter that much to me though. We digitise everything in our house now. CD's, DVD's and Memory Sticks have become our Shiny Shopping bags that carry our Music, Movies and Photographs from the high street (or camera in the case of photos) to our home server.

Once they're loaded onto there, they can be Syncronised or Streamed to iPods, iPhones or Apple TV to be consumed at our leisure.This is particularly useful for the kids. For example that Son can be listening to streamed music on his iPod Touch in his bedroom, while Daughter can be watching a streamed Movie or TV Show via her iPhone in her room and Mrs G & I could be perusing photo's in the living room all simultaneously, or of course, any other combination of these tasks.

Better yet, thanks to the WiFi, you can move around the house and still achieve the same reults, although to be honest movies are best viewed on a TV sized screen - iPod's & iPhones are a bit small for it. But even that's simple enough with an iPod/iPhone TV cable that enables the video out to be shown on most modern TV's.

Having this level of control over the media we purchase makes it infinitely more useable and as a result we probably consume more of it and if we want to search the Internet, Browse a website or even Twitter while we're watching TV, we can do that with an iPhone, or a Laptop, or an iPad (If we had one) :-). I'm really not seeing the need for Google TV.

But then that's because it doesn't fit with my personal circumstances at the moment. Maybe when the kids get their own places and I no longer need to be able to stream everthing. Perhaps I'll find myself sat with pipe in my slippers waiting for the next cricket match and searching for the best place to buy "Old Holburn" online, so Google TV will be my saviour.  For now though, I'm happy as a reformed smoker.

Google TV or Apple TV? But which is better? There's only one way to find out....... Fiiight!!!!



This post originally appeared here: Posterous